Last Updated: Friday, 17 November 2017, 15:16 GMT

Child Soldiers Global Report 2004 - Mali

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2004 - Mali, 2004, available at: [accessed 17 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Republic of Mali

Covers the period from April 2001 to March 2004.

Population: 12.6 million (7.1 million under 18)
Government armed forces: about 7,350
Compulsory recruitment age: 18
Voluntary recruitment age: 18
Voting age: 18
Optional Protocol: ratified 16 May 2002
Other treaties ratified (see glossary): CRC, GC AP I and II, ICC, ILO 138, ILO 182; ACRWC

There were no reports of under-18s in the armed forces.


Mali contributed troops, military observers and police officers to peacekeeping operations under the command of the UN or the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone.1 From 2002, tens of thousands of Malian citizens returned home from Côte d'Ivoire where armed conflict was giving rise to xenophobic attacks and insecurity.2

In August 2003 the Groupe salafiste de prédication et de combat (GSPC), Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, an armed Algerian group, released to the Malian authorities 14 European hostages they had kidnapped in Algeria. Iyad Ag Agaly, a leader of the former Tuareg rebellion in Mali, headed a Malian government mediation team.3


National recruitment legislation and practice

The 1992 constitution states that "Defence of the country is a duty of every citizen" (Article 22). There was no evidence of under-18s in the armed forces. The minimum age for voluntary recruitment and for conscription into the National Youth Service is 18.4 Military service has been reported as voluntary in practice.5

According to Article 17 of the Child Protection Code: "it is forbidden to force children to participate in an armed conflict, or to recruit them into armed forces or groups before the age of 18."6

Other developments

A number of steps were taken to prevent child trafficking. In June 2001 a law was passed making child trafficking an offence punishable by between five and 20 years' imprisonment. In November 2001 legislation was introduced requiring Malian children under the age of 18 to carry travel documents.7

1 UN Peacekeeping, Contributors,; European Commission, "Commission grant to support peace process in Liberia", 16 September 2003, en.htm.

2 IRIN, "Mali: Returnees, refugees face many challenges – IFRC", 7 March 2003,

3 IRIN, "Mali: Released hostages on their way to Bamako", 19 August 2003.

4 Initial report of Mali to UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/3/Add.53, 8 September 1997,

5 The question of conscientious objection to military service, Report of the UN Secretary-General to UN Commission on Human Rights, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1997/99, 16 January 1997,

6 Article 17, Code de protection de l'enfant (Ordonnance no. 02-062/P-RM of 5 June 2002).

7 Décret no. 01-534/P-RM du 1 novembre 2001 portant institution d'un titre de voyage tenant lieu d'autorisation de sortie pour les enfants âgés de zéro à dix huit ans.

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